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January 10, 2011

Network Acceleration is Key Issue for Network Operators

By Andrew Litz, TMCnet Web Editor

Market reports from around the world agree that mobile broadband usage is growing faster than wireline. The latest smartphones connected to fast 3G networks provide compelling applications and are stimulating a dramatic uptake in the use of mobile broadband technology. The mass-market adoption of wireless data is driven by network operators, as they introduce innovative data services. Many subscribers are now opting for fixed mobile substitution and are switching to mobile as their only form of connectivity.

A major problem faced by network operators is that there may not be sufficient wireless network capacity to address increasing demand. The amount of spectrum available for broadband services is limited, and wireless networks inherently have far lower capacity than wireline networks. As a result, many users are beginning to see the effects of network congestion, leading to frequent complaints of slow network operation. If this situation is not corrected soon, a finite number of mobile users with bandwidth-intensive applications could consume all the available wireless network capacity.

Offloading data onto other networks, more-restrictive pricing plans, new spectrum use, and deployment of new technologies all provide ways to manage capacity issues. One method for rapid deployment has been successfully implemented by the company ActivNetworks, which specializes in the acceleration and compression of HTTP streams for optimizing Web traffic.

The company’s BoostEdge is hot pluggable and can be installed quickly and non-intrusively without any modification to the operator’s network or applications, servers, or end-user mobile devices. In most customer scenarios, Web data traffic is immediately cut six-fold and response time is improved by three. The product ensures high server availability and improved load handling.

The BoostEdge application speeds up response times, economizes bandwidth, and secures Web applications. In addition, it helps optimize 3G mobile networks for telecom operators. It differs from the commonly used proxy mode in that its Plug'n Activ technology allows rapid implementation, without infrastructure changes, and without service interruption.

Of the two BoostEdge product lines, the first optimizes the mobile flow (3G) and the second accelerates and secures Web applications (Application Delivery Controller). BoostEdge is accelerating business applications at more than 30 percent of CAC 40 companies, as well as at large e-commerce sites, banks, insurance, and institutional online portals.

ActivNetworks uses Advantech’s NCP-7560 Packetarium system to cost-effectively scale up to 80 Gbps of packet handling in 4U of server rack mount space. The system accepts up to eight multicore network processor boards with more than 100 cores in order to handle core network traffic on multiple 10 gigabit and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports.

The NCP-7560 represents the high-performance end of Advantech’s Packetarium line of products. The NCP-7560 integrates up to eight powerful, multicore Packetarium network processing boards for wire speed packet processing, providing up to 80 Gbps of throughput. The main carrier board supplies high-speed switched interconnects between boards, along with storage, management and external network connections.

Each network processing board is linked by dual XAUI ports to a Broadcom (News - Alert) BCM56820 10 GbE switch on the carrier board. The10GbE switch provides six front-panel 10 GbE SFP+ ports and 16 GbE SFP ports via a Broadcom GbE switch. A SAS controller connects to two AMC slots for SAS/SATA 2.5 inch storage. The carrier board uses a Freescale (News - Alert) MPC8545 local processor for overall switch and system management, and it provides two front-panel 100 Mbps ports for remote management.

In related news, Advantech recently introduced a series of embedded boards based on the second-generation Intel (News - Alert) Core i7 processor, featuring intelligent performance, power efficiency, and integrated Intel HD graphics with DX10.1 support. The platforms range from computer on modules, industrial motherboards, and single-slot boards to embedded systems.

Advantech said that these high-end platforms provide targeted performance for multitasking and high-quality digital media solutions. Applications include telecom, factory automation, military, medical, and gaming.

Andrew Litz brings more than 20 years of experience in publishing to his role as Web Editor at TMC (News - Alert), where he covers cloud computing, networking, and other related areas. Previously, Andrew served as a technical editor for a leading analyst firm providing research and advisory services to users of information technology, as well as providing editorial support to the IEEE (News - Alert), a global professional society in the areas of electrical engineering and electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Andrew Litz

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